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Mobile devices biggest enterprise security threat - report

Businesses have left themselves vulnerable and open to cyber criminals in the rush to ensure their workforce could operate remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Verizon.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to quickly support remote working practices, often without proper security measures in place, it says.

The Verizon Business Mobile Security Index (MSI) 2021 reveals 49% of businesses stressed that changes made to remote working practices during lockdown adversely affected their company's cybersecurity.

Interestingly, even though 40% of businesses surveyed recognised that mobile devices are their company's biggest IT security threat, 45% of them knowingly sacrificed the security of mobile devices to get the job done (e.g., meet a deadline or productivity targets) and nearly a quarter (24%) sacrificed the security of mobile devices to facilitate their response to restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.

"The pandemic caused a global shift in the way organisations operate, many of which ramped up their digital transformation agendas and working models to meet the fast-changing needs of both employees and customers," says Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Verizon Business. 

"While businesses focused their efforts elsewhere, cybercriminals saw a wealth of new opportunities to strike. 

"With the rise of the remote workforce and the spike in mobile device usage, the threat landscape changed, which for organisations, means there is a greater need to hone in on mobile security to protect themselves and those they serve."

The effect of the pandemic on the workforce is going to have a lasting impact. According to the report, a large majority (70%) of those that had seen remote working grow following the introduction of pandemic restrictions expected it to fall again afterward. 

However, 78% said that it would still remain higher than before lockdown. Overall, respondents said that they expected the number of remote workers to settle at around half (49%).

The report found small and medium-sized businesses are also under threat.

Over half of those surveyed (52%) said that small and medium sized businesses are more of a target than larger enterprises but even though this is the case, 59% of small and medium sized businesses had sacrificed security with 22% suffering a mobile compromise. Seventy-eight percent stated that they should take mobile-device security more seriously.

Verizon says security should always be front and centre.

Of those surveyed, 72% of organisations are worried about device abuse or misuse. Part of the problem is that many companies struggle to develop an effective Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) - 57% didn't have one at all.

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